By Libuseng Nyaka
QWAQWA – Early childhood development practitioners sighed in relief after the department of education explained to them that the shifting of certain functions from the social development to education department will not negatively affect their jobs, instead it will up-skill them.
Explaining the modalities of the process of transferring some ECD functions to department of education , Selebego Dithebe had this to say, in an interview with The Guard:
“The aim of this joint roadshow with social development is to meet matrons and ECD employees on the issue of the ECD function shift. There are some functions that were performed by social development that are going to be performed by the department of education. These functions include those listed in the Children‘s Act No 38, part of section 5, that addresses partial care.
“Partial care will now be our baby as ECD. We are here to correct some of the myths out there; there is no way we are saying ECD is going to the department of education. ECD will still be there and social development will also be performing its functions in ECD, of protection and child care.”
Dithebe said there are a host of other departments that are involved in the development of a child.
“The department of health is involved in terms of immunization while home affairs must ensure that children are registered and have ID numbers within 10 days of their birth. We are only retaining functions that are mainly related to educating the child and making sure that the child is ready for school and schools are ready for the kids.”
Meanwhile Dithebe said they have also been visiting schools to assess compliance following a public outcry that underage children are admitted to primary schools.
“The admission condition of a learner in Grade R, is that the child that turns five by end of the month of June in the year of registration.”
“We are going to focus on early learning for the kids: all programmes are going to be structured in such a way that creches across the province will be registered. We will be assisting the crèches as well as the employees there in terms of capacity building.”
His sentiments were echoed by director of ECD in the department of social development, Thomas Tladi.
“This is about ECD function shift and it means that ECD will be now be a responsibility of the department of education with effect from April 1, 2022. As the two departments, we are going to all districts to meet and engage with the stakeholders themselves, namely the ECD practitioners, the workforce and parents.
“This means social development, which is currently responsible for ECD, is no longer going to be responsible for that programme. It will be now the responsibility of the department of education. The department of education will be responsible for the actual education of children of all ECDs. In the past, education was only focusing on Grade R, but now this shift will come up with a curriculum that accommodates all age groups in each and every ECD centre. This includes registration of ECD centres, to ensure they operate legally; paying subsidence allowances is part of the new deal.”
Owners of crèches who attended a road show on Tuesday at Tshiya hall were relieved after this explanation by both the department of social development and education, that function shift brings more opportunities as those who have no qualifications will be skilled not fired.
“Our fear was that people would lose their jobs once the ECD functions move to department of education and those without matric would be retrenched. But after this engagement I am very happy. This mean more opportunities for our children who were working in ECDs without matric,” Puleng Thobile from Mabolela Educare Centre said.